When the conversation sparks up about the greatest players to play the game, one name that always seems to rise to the top of the list is Michael Jordan. He was a once in a generation type of player that had could impact a game like no other. He has been the source of inspiration for several legends to follow him including Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Tracy McGrady, Russell Westbrook, Chris Paul, Kevin Durant, and Dwyane Wade.
There are those that wonder where the incredible amount of admiration and respect stems from in regards to Jordan. Upon his arrival in the NBA, he immediately skyrocketed and became a dominating force on both ends of the floor.
Jordan was the most explosive scorer the league has ever seen with an NBA-best career average of 30.1ppg. Ne won a league-record seven consecutive scoring titles from 1987-93 and an NBA-best 10 total scoring championships. He also holds the best career mark of 33.4 points in the playoffs while scoring the most points (5,987) in postseason play, highest individual points scored in a single playoff game (63), and most overall consecutive games with at least 10 or more points recorded (866).
What sets Jordan apart from the others is the fact that he was just as good on the defensive end. A nine time selection on the NBA All Defensive First Team and one Defensive Player of the Year award are further evidence of such. This also helped him earn 10 All-NBA First Team selections and 14 All-Star Game appearances. He is also the first player in NBA history to record 200 steals and 100 blocks in a single season, and was the first to lead the league in both scoring and steals in a single campaign.
However, what Jordan is most remembered for was his dominance in the NBA Finals winning six NBA titles in as many appearances while garnering a league record six NBA Finals MVP awards. This also included notching an eye-popping 41.0 points in the 1993 NBA Finals against the Phoenix Suns and has the most consecutive 20-point performances on that stage (35).
On top of that, he earned the league’s most valuable player award five times, which is second all-time behind just Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (six). He is the first player in NBA history to win Rookie of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year, and Most Valuable Player during his career. He is also one of two players to win three consecutive NBA Finals MVP awards and is the only player to lead the league in scoring, win Most Valuable Player and Defensive Player of the Year all in the same season.
What also spoke volumes about Jordan’s greatness was his ability to perform at an elite level after he made a comeback following a three-year absence at the age of 38 to play two more seasons with the Washington Wizards. During that tenure, he averaged 21.2 points which included becoming the oldest player to notch 50 points in a single game after he dropped 51 against the Charlotte Hornets.
In all honesty, the list of accolades and NBA records that Jordan is endless and would only further exemplify the talent on the court that he possessed. Beyond that, Jordan is viewed as the ultimate competitor with the all-important “killer instinct” that not only earned him the respect from his peers, but was the key in making him the most popular player that the NBA has ever had.
His brand and legacy have only grown larger since he retired well over a decade ago. He is the one NBA player that has been idolized like none other before him. Although there are those that may argue for other legends such as Abdul-Jabbar or Wilt Chamberlain holding the prestigious title as being the greatest player ever to play the game, the fact that he is in the conversation, to begin with, only speaks to what kind of player he was on the court.